Her infectious smiles, jovial nature, calm mien and a charming disposition best define the Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools’ Trust Council, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina. As an administrator par excellence, Adesina is the perfect fit to control the reins of the institution that has existed for six and a half decades. Selfless and resilient, the University of Ife-trained administrator possesses the panache, passion, professionalism and pragmatism which have propelled her through the ranks, from being a school teacher to becoming a CEO. Funke Olaode unveils what makes Adesina tick.
It is expansive. It is serene. It is sprawling. Everything sparkles in quality and uniqueness. The ambience of the school’s environment is soothing just as the courteous academic and non-academic staff are professionally convivial. Passing by are well-mannered, neatly-dressed students, who genuflect as they greet with genuine warmth on their faces.
Welcome to Corona Schools Lekki, Lagos. With a clear vision to be Nigeria’s leading educational institution which is focused on and dedicated to producing well-rounded and proudly Nigerian young men and women equipped for continuous learning, personal mastery, and leadership, the Corona schools brand has strategically continued to innovate and evolve with the times to suit its students and publics. The school which has been in existence for 65 years has continued to pride itself in outstanding excellence and stayed true to its mission of providing world class education to children, with its latest being a day secondary school.
Looking regal in a floral gown with matching accessories, the Chief Executive Officer of the institution, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina, was a cynosure of all eyes as something new is about to happen. Having been in existence for 65 years with arrays of schools in Lagos high brow areas and an outstanding boarding secondary school founded 25 years ago, the schools” trust council finally yielded to the yearning of parents for a non-boarding secondary school which became a reality on Monday September 28 when it was officially inaugurated at Lekki, Lagos.
For Adesina, who has spent 18 years at Corona, it was a moment of exquisite delight.
But before becoming a teacher and later, a school administrator, Adesina had worked in a financial institution.
She says about herself: “I am an educator. I was born in Ibadan but grew up and schooled in Lagos. Like every other person, I had a normal childhood. I hold a degree in English Studies from the University of Ife, a postgraduate diploma in Education from the University of Lagos, and a postgraduate Certificate in Education (International) from the University of Nottingham.”
Married to an Anglican priest (who’s also a management consultant), she has three grown-up children. But at what stage did she go into teaching? “Ironically,” she admits, “I veered from banking to teaching. I studied English but was invited by my brother-in-law who was working in a bank. I worked in various departments and some financial institutions that sprang up in the early 1990s. From there, I made my way into teaching.”
She acknowledges further, “It actually started in the church as a counsellor. There, I found out that teaching was my calling. I embraced teaching 18 years ago. In 2002, I joined the CSTC as a teacher of English Language and later a class teacher at Corona School Victoria Island. I moved through various ranks and became the principal of Corona Secondary School, Agbara in 2014. I was appointed the chief executive officer of Corona Schools Trust Council on April 1, 2017.”
For Adesina, going into banking and teaching were accidental as her childhood aspiration was to be a lawyer.
“Before my foray into banking and later teaching, I had always wanted to be a lawyer. But when I got into the university of Ife I was offered English with the hope of crossing over to the law department. That never happened though. Here I am today.”
Adesina as a committed teacher is also an administrator par excellence and with her board of trustees have seen to the growth of the group of Corona schools over the last two decades.
“I joined Corona at a time when Corona was embarking on expansion. I started working in Corona School, Victoria Island in 2002. The concept of expansion started about 15 years ago. I was the head of School, Corona School Victoria Island when the then-executive director approached me and told me about the decision of the board to open a school in the Lekki axis and I was asked to pioneer it. That took me out of Victoria Island as a pioneer head of the new Corona School Lekki,” she recounts.
“We started Corona School Lekki and in the year that Corona School Lekki moved to its permanent site, I was moved to Corona Secondary School, Agbara as the principal. The school is 25 years plus now. But that was a time when the school was going through a kind of transition.
“It was a privilege for me to have been asked to be the principal of the school after Mrs. Adefisayo, who’s now the Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, left. After working in Agbara for three years, I was promoted to the office of the CEO. And of course, that responsibility to continue with the vision of Corona Schools rests on me, and one of it is the realisation of the Corona Day Secondary School, which we are happy that we are formally opening today.”
According to her, there are other projects in the kitty.
“For example,” she reveals, “we’re planning to relocate our Apapa school to FESTAC Town. This is already in the works. Our plan was to open the school officially in 2021. But due to the pandemic, there has been some setback.”
Yet, there’s nothing stopping Adesina and her team.
“We’re still moving forward with our plans. If we’re still able to open in 2021, that would be great. As you may know, we also have the Corona College of Education situated in Ilupeju, and our vision is to see this eventually transit into Corona University of Education.”
With 65 years of existence, you may wonder how the school has been able to derive its high level of commitment and dedication from staff. The reason isn’t far-fetched.
“Corona is like a legacy that has been handed over to us. You know, when someone hands over a legacy to you, it’s like asking you to take ownership. Working with that understanding, the first orientation we give members of staff is that they should take the organization as if it is theirs. If it were yours, how would you do it? What could you do to ensure continuity? How would you nurture it to see that it grows? And that’s the feeling we engender in members of staff. Therefore, Corona is like a communal family. This, coupled with the fact that we have people who are working here, who, incidentally, had attended Corona school, we also have people who are working here with their children in Corona school.”
Harping on some of the school’s alumni who have achieved feats, elated Adesina says the list is overwhelming.
“When I speak about the alumni, I will be talking about those who are successful and making waves in their various fields today and this has always been a thing of pride for us. From the number two citizen in Nigeria, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and his wife, Dolapo. We also have former past governors, captains of industry like Tonye Cole. These are people who are successful in their right. In entertainment, we have the likes of Dakore Egbuson, Teju Baby Face, Banky W, Adesuwa Etomi, etc. They all attended one Corona school or the other,” she enthuses.
“We’ve officially registered our alumni body, and we hope that we’ll have a body of people who went through Corona and are ready to come back and identify with the school and give back. Not just in financing the endowment fund, but in raising other world-class citizens so that when our current students see those who have gone before them, it serves as a motivation and we hope we’ll be able to set up a kind of mentorship programme where the alumni can mentor younger ones.”
Adesina is also proud to showcase her student’s achievements beyond academics.
She notes, “On the academic ground, they have excelled. In the past few years, some of our students had passed the foundational level of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), a global professional accounting body offering the chartered certified accountant qualification. At the recently held graduation for the class of 2020 at Corona Secondary School, Agbara, 11 of our outgoing students passed the ACCA foundation level exam yet again.
With the establishment of Corona Day Secondary School, Adesina discloses that the next line of action is to keep the flag flying.
“Now that the Corona Day Secondary School, Lekki is open, albeit, in its temporary site, we will be moving on to our next phase of construction of the main campus as the chairman said during her opening remarks at the launch. We will invite you to break soil soon when we start the building. While we keep working simultaneously on the Corona School FESTAC project. The idea behind Corona School FESTAC is to transit the Corona School Apapa over there due to the issues we have experienced access and the declining demographics of Apapa over the years. It is clear now that Apapa is a port area and there are certain businesses that do not thrive so well in such areas. Here is why we thought that instead of depleting our schools by one, we just move where we have identified a target market”.
As an educator and administrator, Adesina believes all hope is not lost on Nigeria’s educational system, giving some tips.
“As we all know, the skills now required for the workplace is not about what school you went to, but about the skills you have, and your capabilities. Also, a lot of organisations are not static. They are also growing. They are also benchmarking international market standards. Hence, that growth mindset must be there. It is not just about running a British, or American or an International school. It is about the quality of your deliverables. And you must match your deliverables with the needs in your environment.
“We are moving into the fourth industrial revolution. We are talking about robotics and animations from a very early age, how does this compare with somebody who is still using only hoes and local farming implements. It has its place, but it is also highly limiting. So that is why we need to up our game. That is why we need to rewrite the story of our educational system. Even at the national level, looking at our national policies, looking at our curriculum, and everything, we need to take a critical look at these. We should be educating children for the future not just for now. And the future is here upon us already.”
Adesina as a helmswoman of Corona has a quiet disposition about her. Is this a reflection of her personality?
“I am very passionate about my ideals and beliefs, but by nature, yes, I am quiet. However, I equally have a very strong personality. If you ask anybody that knows me, they will tell you that if I want something done, I don’t need to shout to get it done and If I want it now, I really mean now, unequivocally. I think it comes from also having very firm principles I believe in. I have this same expectation from people working with me. Although I am not a perfectionist, I think I am on the fringe of it.”
Adesina is a committed woman, wife and mother. Happily married to an Anglican priest, a management consultant with three grown-up children. How did her path cross with an Anglican priest?
“He wasn’t an Anglican priest when we got married but then we have been married for 31 years and precisely after eight years my husband went into priesthood. He still does his regular job. So I have been an ‘Iya Yard’ in the last 23 years.”